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English Nationalism and Euroscepticism

Losing the Peace


Ben Wellings

This book seeks out the origins of contemporary English nationalism. Whilst much academic and political attention has been given to England’s place within the United Kingdom since devolution, the author argues that recent English nationalism actually derives from Britain’s troubled relationship with European integration. Drawing on political evidence from the former Empire, the debates surrounding EEC accession and the United Kingdom’s ongoing membership in the European Union, the author identifies the foundations of contemporary English nationalism. In doing so, he adds an important corrective to the debate about nationalism in England, pulling our gaze out from the United Kingdom itself and onto a wider field. Far from being ‘absent’, English nationalism as we know it today has been driven by resistance to European integration since the end of Empire in the 1960s.


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Acknowledgements vii


Acknowledgements This book is the product of intensive teaching. From its inception it coin- cided with the start of my academic career and as such was as much a rationalisation of my teaching responsibilities as a discrete research project. Courses I have taught such as Europe in the Modern Era; Europe in the Twentieth Century, the European Union; Politics in Britain and Nationalism in Europe – as well as more specific honours-level courses – will all be evi- dent in the pages that follow. These courses have been a delight to teach and I am indebted to the students and colleagues who have contributed to all of them. I would particularly like to acknowledge the students in my most recent honours course Euroscepticism and English Nationalism which, unsurprisingly, drew heavily on the themes and material of this book. I have incurred many debts during the writing of this book, mostly to do with childcare. I would not have been able to go to work without the excellent care provided to both my children from the staf f at the Acton Early Childhood Centre (especially Rosie Sergi and Kara Chappell). Help also came from Megan and David; Kate and Agus; and Helen and Daniel; Jacqui and Justin; Jane and Jerry; Jo and Michael as well as many others without whom the juggling of parenting and work would not have been possible. Esther and Jojok have provided material and psychological sup- port throughout these years and allowed me to return early from a holiday...

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